The social scene at UTM has always been an interesting one—interesting because we have 12,000 students and no real social scene. Part of the problem could be that we are a commuter school: students from Etobicoke, Scarborough, Toronto, Brampton, Milton, and many other places don’t want to spend a lot of their spare time in the forest that is the suburbs of Mississauga. Part of the problem could be that we have gruelling workloads, both at and away from school. Part of the blame falls on us for living up to our reputation of having a boring campus.
So how do you breathe life back into UTM? I have absolutely no idea. I did, however, read a funny article in the Toronto Star, called “Cultural Wishlist: 25 Ways to Reshape Toronto”. So this is going to be the first of many articles that are aimed at improving life at UTM. It will be hard to strike a balance between the practical—like the Blind Duck Drink Specials—and the unrealistic, like the UTM Monorail.
In my three years at UTM I’ve found a few things that could be changed for the better, and a few things that should be better advertised. I hope that this list of things begins to make you consider how much potential our campus has.
Our Student Centre looks like a public pool with its beautiful curvy glass and stark exterior. The next best thing about our Student Centre is the beautiful low mood lighting when you enter—oh, wait, those are both horrible things. It’s depressing. It’s hard to improve student life with a building like that. My suggestion: expand it. The expansion is already being considered, but let’s add a dance room (soundproof and covered in mirrors), more space for clubs (some of which are three to an office now), play CFRE throughout the building, brighten it up, add a lounge and more food choices…. Look at the possibilities.
Showcase Student Media
We have CCT, we have UTM/TV, the Medium, CFRE, Art and Art History, and a thriving Drama Program. The Medium has a writing contest—sweet, throw a huge poetry slam. UTM/TV has content but no TVs to show it on. The Art and Art History program have Artsfest, but it needs to take center stage. We have a huge culture at UTM, but we lack the ability to showcase it. Why not increase the amount of art space around campus, allowing students to showcase more and more of their art? Why not set up an overarching media society to help students, clubs, and societies get their names out there? CFRE, The Medium and UTM/TV thrive on volunteer input, so volunteer. The more people helping out, the more the groups become relevant.
24 Hour Study Space
We all have exams and midterms at different times. We are one of the few universities in the world that thinks studying ends at midnight and begins at 8 a.m. Having the library’s 24-hour study sessions open for only 12 days a semester doesn’t cut it. Either add more study space (those tables and chairs around CCT last year were cool) or open the library up longer. But please, enforce the library noise rules; it’s a library, not a fun palace. Which brings me to the next point.
More Student Space
We seriously lack places for students to chill. The Blind Duck is at capacity on Tuesdays, the Meeting Place is packed constantly, and right now the only place to hang out is the fourth floor of the library. Would it hurt to add some more benches in CCIT? Use some space in North Building for a student lounge? If the library were quieter, we could all study better.
All pub nights are not created equal. UTMSU helps the clubs out with their pub nights, but not all of UTMSU pub nights are even well-attended. So we need to figure out a way to make these pub nights successful: advertising, ticket sales, drink prices, and themes all play a huge part in it. The big five pubs are First, Last, Halloween, Sex Pub, and _____. (The blank is because I am sure there is another one… somewhere.) As Broseph McBro once said, “Giveth me a toga and showeth me to the beer!”. People want to party and relax—give them a reason to.
I started this list as the top five things I think can be changed around campus. However, there are just so many ways to tap into the potential of this campus and make it amazing. I will be adding more and more to this list to make it as full as I can. If you have any suggestions, feel free to email me at Peter@utmsu.ca .